This whole thing will likely set me back 6 months in the advancement of my work. I’m not exaggerating, I can tell you right now that I will spend the next three to four months obsessing over news coverage, raging on for days, struggling to get out of a reactive state of mind. I’m sure I’ll take every opportunity to argue and debate with friends and family, gently explain what it means to a curious six-year-old, and spend free time writing letters and calling my reps until their inboxes explode. Then, maybe around the five-month mark, I’ll find a way to level off and switch to a slow-burn, so I can ground myself somewhat before the Summer is upon us again.
Daumier’s ‘Gargantua’ comes to mind when I think of the incoming administration.
It feels ominous to head into winter on a down note like this. I know that this level of outrage is unsustainable, that we will all have to go in cycles, so individuals don’t burn out on their efforts. In many ways, I feel that the most important progress can only come after a long period of disassociation with business as usual, so there is time and space enough that we don’t re-form our assumptions in the same configuration. The structural changes that need to be made are in our core values, and that is deep work, to be sure. If we successfully expand our views to include the marginalized among us and our relations within nature, if we can silence ourselves long enough to listen, we may yet have a chance at remediating this unfortunate turn of events.
Surely coming together in opposition is a silver lining, however imperfect?
I need to triangulate art with ecology and social justice, which I have never framed in a simple and truthful enough way to be elegant about. It’s always heavy-handed, overworked. But now I see that environmental justice is social justice, and that the former comes about naturally when we hold the mystery of the wilds to be sacred, not confused with the profane. The best place to put my energy in this fight, I feel, is to use my work as a platform, with which to talk about the need for a renewed relationship with our shadow selves. Exploring the inverse of rational processes is essential, because logic alone is not sufficient to address the magnitude our problem. Returning to an intuitive grey area feels like the beginning of knitting these ideas together in a more meaningful constellation.
I don’t want to react to current events, I’m too busy looking for my own Tao, my own derivative distilled from folk traditions and witchcraft, but expressed through fresh means. Tradition is important, sometimes to follow, sometimes to dismantle. We all feel as though we exist on the edge of a razor blade right now, so let each of us act as counter balance the other, so that we can retain and grow our collective ability to stabilize the situation. The medicine for this is to feel deeply and make the time to pivot inward in between political rallys, petitions and social media feeds. We can do this, but only together.
“Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught,
only then will you learn that you cannot eat money.”
— Cree Proverb